Is it now worth the expense of costly insured-based tenancy deposit schemes, with an agency’s high overheads, and the advancement in mobile technology, to name a few factors?
Over the past ten years, the lettings industry has seen a drastic advancement in mobile technology. In fact, it is now so advanced, that agents are producing better quality inventories but spending less time conducting them. There have been some interesting trends starting to occur, dividing clients into three categories:
- Agents that go above and beyond with the detail, taking lots of date-stamped photos, recording all marks and scuffs, etc, and defining the difference between condition and cleanliness in many observations.
- Agents that follow the templates within the software to fulfil their job requirements, with enough detail to minimise the possibility of a dispute at the end of a tenancy.
- Agents that are less interested in the fine written details, and simply ensuring that diligence checks are covered, e.g., health and safety with smoke alarms, meter reads, etc, and rather than listing conditions and cleanliness in item descriptions, they take ample date-stamped photos, with an average visit time of 25 mins.
Interestingly, the category three users are becoming more frequent, and their feedback was:
- Tenancy deposit schemes are too expensive on an insured basis, and it is difficult to change from insured to custodial so they look to reduce staff time to make up.
- Rather than submit a deposit dispute to an adjudication, which takes a huge amount of time and cost to agents, it is easier to negotiate a dispute and put money into the pot from an agent to resolve the dispute quicker.
- We simply don’t have the time with constant new legislation appearing.
- Proptech and mobile technology are now so good, that we have audit trails, communication logs, and so on, to help with supporting evidence if required.
What is the future of inventories, deposit schemes and mobile technology?
Due to recent and current new legislative demands throughout the industry, agents may be divided into two ways of thinking; the first being that agents will be inclined to carry out their property reports at a mere satisfactory level of due diligence, relying on advanced mobile technology with unlimited photos and minimal description. These agents understand the possible challenges and accept that certain issues will need to be rectified between themselves and the tenants, rather than pay the additional cost of the insured-based TDS scheme, plus staff time to complete deposit disputes packaged up for adjudication.
Then, there will be the other agents who will want to be covered the most, always providing a finely detailed inventory in addition to multiple photos. There is no right or wrong way if we can provide agents with the backing of mobile technology, supported with date-stamped photos, and all the necessary due diligence and ensuring that Health and Safety obligations are met.
The lettings industry is undeniably changing, raising more questions on the future of Section 21s, and the constant discussions of zero deposit schemes; two factors that will rely heavily on a good inventory report, produced by mobile technology.